This is the time of the year when the big-time football programs get their seasons started on the right foot by playing some lower echelon Division I teams, generally resulting in some real lop-sided scores.

And for these smaller schools, it is a chance to fatten their coffers with big paydays at the expense of their football players. These are the games I refer to as “sacrificial lamb” contests.

But for most college football fans this is a busy week as they scramble to get domestic things in order so they can watch their favorite team open the 2018 season with an easy win.

There are very few games scheduled this weekend that should be very competitive and interesting to watch. Competitive match-ups should include the Texas Longhorns visiting Maryland, West Virginia at Tennessee and Washington at Auburn on Saturday, Miami at LSU Sunday and Virginia Tech at Florida State on Monday.

However, much of the media attention is focused on new coaches and those who are under scrutiny for some past occurrences. And some, like new Texas A&M head man Jimbo Fisher, fall under both categories.

Fisher’s program at Aggieland is being scrutinized for allegedly breaking rules on cash distributions to recruited players and illegal practice time during the off-season.

These misdeeds should be taken with a grain of salt because the allegations were made by a player who has since left the Aggie program. And guess where he ended up? Right at Arizona where his former A&M coach Kevin Sumlin is about to face his first game for the Wildcats.

The player involved in these allegations is former red-shirt linebacker Santino Marchiol who claimed Fisher is running an “outlaw program in only nine months on the job” in an article appearing in USA Today last week.

Marchiol’s finger pointing is landing close to home as he accused A&M linebackers coach Bradley Dale Peveto of doling out $700 cash with the instructions to make sure a couple of recruits on unofficial visits “have a good time,” according to a column appearing in the Houston Chronicle last week.

He said that A&M assistants exceeded off-season practice hours and were present during “voluntary” 7-on7 drills barking instructions at the players.

Marchiol added that the program’s new trainers forced him to push through an ankle injury in June which was the last straw and made him transfer to Arizona.

I think Marchiol left Texas A&M because everything was much tougher under Fisher than Sumlin to the appreciation of most of the Aggie players.

And he also used a brand- new NCAA rule to apply for immediate eligibility instead of having to sit out a season the old-fashioned way the article pointed out. Because he red-shirted last season at A&M, he has four years of eligibility remaining to play four seasons.

Another story that occupied most sports media outlets involved Ohio State Head Coach Urban Meyer who received a three-game suspension by the university for mishandling domestic violence accusations and keeping assistant coach Zach Smith for several years after the coach’s wife accused him of abuse, according to the Associated Press.

The article added that it is doubtful the school, coach or athletic director—also suspended—will face penalties from the NCAA.

Smith played under Meyer and is the grandson of late Ohio State head coach Earle Bruce, which had a bearing on how Meyer handled Smith.

Red flags started in 2009 when Smith was arrested in Gainesville, Fla. for allegedly picking up his pregnant wife Courtney and throwing her against the wall. She declined to press charges.

Smith brought a high school coach to a strip club while on a recruiting trip. Meyer warned him not to do it again.

Smith also had credit cards declined while setting up recruiting trips and was delinquent in paying for other expenses. He was late and no-showed on some responsibilities and Meyer’s boss, Gene Smith, recommended Smith be fired.

He finally was fired last month after Courtney Smith received a protective order against her husband.

Some prominent Ohio State regents wanted Urban Meyer fired, but it didn’t happen.

After all, winning football games and filling the school’s coffers is the name of the game.

KWICKIES…Congrats are in order to Hawaii for winning the 2018 Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pa. Sunday. The team from Honolulu blanked South Korea 3-0, marking the first shutout in the championship game since 2002.

A Jefferson County newspaper put out its annual football edition Sunday and projected the best players in Southeast Texas by each position. It’s hard to tell what they were smoking, but there wasn’t a single West Orange-Stark Mustang mentioned on defense and three from Newton on the elite team. It’s funny that Head Coach Cornel Thompson’s defense is always among the leaders in the state of Texas for ALL classifications, yet there’s not one player good enough to make this prejudiced team. Perhaps we’ll get a better idea of which defense is better Sept. 14 when the two teams meet at Dan Hooks Stadium in West Orange.

The Houston Texans gave a brief preview of things to come as the first team defense with J.J. Watt, Jadeveon Clowney and Whitney Mercilus played three series Saturday and held the LA Rams to three yards or less on all three series. Unfortunately, the Texans lost 21-20 when the try for two failed late in the fourth period.

The Dallas Cowboys are a different story as they were shut out by the Arizona Cardinals until the waning minutes of the game when they kicked a field goal but still lost 27-3. The offensive line is hurting which causes the quarterback to hurry his throws. The Cowboys play their final exhibition game Thursday against the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium.

Controversial Cincinnati Bengals cornerback Adam “Pacman” Jones signed a one-year contract with the Denver Broncos last weekend.

JUST BETWEEN US…The Houston Astros have hit into more double-plays (122) than any other major league team through Sunday’s action. But they have 80 wins, which is third behind the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees. The Astros will conclude one of their most important series today at 1:10 p.m. against the Oakland A’s—the final time these two AL West contenders meet. Houston entered the series Monday only 1½ games ahead of the A’s as the Astros continue to get sparkling performances from the players elevated from Class AAA Fresno. And speaking of Fresno, the Grizzlies captured the Pacific Coast League Northern Division Saturday night on a three-run walk-off homer by Kyle Tucker. In fact, all of the Astros’ full-season minor league affiliates are on pace to make the playoffs. Tucker is 12-for-19 with six home runs and 12 RBIs since being optioned back to the minors last Monday.